Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rainbows and promises

Has anyone besides me noticed how many rainbows God has flung in the sky this year? Maybe it's just me but I think there have been more this year than in my lifetime combined.

I saw the first one on June 2, 2010. It appeared just over 840 when Tom and I were on our way home to confront our crisis. When I saw it I was immediately taken back to the summer of 1980. That summer I was captain of our high school marching band's colorguard. That put me responsible for 40 flag twirlers and 8 rifle tossers. Quite a big role for a rising high school senior. Our band director purchased new flags for us and they were colored like rainbows. It was a beautiful display--our 200 plus instrument band marching with a rainbow surrounding them.

At the end of the marching season I wrote each of the girls a note and printed Genesis 9:16 in it. "Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."

The rainbow still appears in the clouds and reminds us that "God always does what He says He will do." His covenant is everlasting! That means that all through the years...thousands of them, God has always done what He says He will do. NEVER has He EVER not kept His Word.

I find it also interesting that in our preschool class on Sunday mornings, the Bible truth we are teaching is this very one...that God always does what He says He will do. Two weeks ago we made rainbows out of popsicle sticks and ribbons (and an ark out of cardboard boxes).

This has been a season of rainbows and promises. I'm still suspended between the promise and the fulfillment of that promise but God's still suspending rainbows over my head. So I will choose to believe that since God always does what He says He will do--I will not only dance in the rain, but I'll worship under the rainbows and walk about with a smile in my spirit that says, "It's just a matter of time..."

God knew that summer of 1980 that I'd need a few rainbow in 2011. And that makes me smile.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reflections in July

I'm not sure of the exact date but in July 1975 I asked Jesus to be my Savior while I listened to a man sing "O Holy Night" at Camp Pinnacle in the North Georgia Mountains. We were celebrating Christmas in July and somehow taking the baby away from the trimmings, I was able to understand how very near He was to the cross.

This July we celebrated Tom's 48th birthday. That's right...my good husband is only two years shy of 50 and I'm right behind him! More than half of those 48 years I've shared with him...I chose wisely. :)

And our baby? She's growing! She turned five months old yesterday. Just look at the smile.

It's been a long time coming--and don't even get me started on what all transpired while it was in the making but my book is hitting the retail market soon. Spiritual Warfare for Women has been released. How could I have ever known the adventure God had in store for me when I gave him my life at Camp Pinnacle many July's ago.

All the way my Savior leads me...and wherever He leads I'll go.

Friday, April 29, 2011


We just celebrated Easter. On Friday night we attended the Secret Church Simulcast and heard excellent teaching on the Doctrine of Salvation by David Platt. It was a perfect way to commemorate "Good Friday."

Easter seemed different this year. I think it's because I'm stuck in Saturday. Think about it--Jesus tried to warn His disciples of what was to come, but they didn't hear Him. Here they'd left all that they had and put their trust, their vocations and their hopes in Him. When their world came crashing down and their hope hung dying on a cross--the Scripture says that they scattered.

What did they do on Saturday? I would imagine that some of them laid on the ground and cried in anguish like I did last summer. Others probably stared at the walls and questioned everything they'd ever believed about Him.

Saturday was a long day.

Saturdays like that can be excruciatingly painful and way longer than 24 hours. Long hours when nothing makes sense, countless promises linger (and almost haunt you with their voices), and things are just "not right." It's the time between God's greatest work and His greatest glory.

If you're living in the LONG SATURDAY, I hesitate to even say this because I don't know if it will make you hurt worse or help you feel better. And I only want to say something that will make you feel better although I'm not sure words are ever enough on the LONG SATURDAY.

But because I've been thinking about this LONG SATURDAY for a few weeks now, and I read this in my little "Streams in the Desert" devotional book this morning, I'm going to share it:

"Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly." James 5:17. ...The literal meaning of this in the Greek says, "He prayed in prayer." In other words, "He kept on praying." The lesson here is that you must keep praying.

The devotional goes on to talk about Elijah's prayer that followed his great victory on top of Mt. Carmel. After the fire came from heaven, rain was still needed for God's prophecy to be fulfilled. But when Elijah prayed for the rain, he sent his servant six times to look for a storm cloud and six times the servant returned to report that there was no cloud. Nothing.

Yet the 7th time "a cloud as small as a man's hand" was reported to Elijah by his servant.

I would imagine that you've already prayed much more than 7 times! I know that I've prayed at least 7317 times. But, maybe God's answer is coming on my 8654th prayer and I only have another thousand plus a few prayers to pray.

The writer says this, "This is a story of faith and sight--faith cutting itself off from everything except God, with sight that looks and yet sees nothing."

This next part encouraged me, and I hope it will you--I DO believe it's true, but I am wrestling with it ...

"Our heavenly Father lives, and even the delays of answers to our prayers are part of His goodness."

Hmmmmm.....I know He lives and I know He's good--but it's been a very LONG SATURDAY for me, perhaps for you and I know for several of my friends. If you are one of those that I'm praying with, please know that I am praying for our storm clouds to form.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

...couldn't put Humpty together again

Just this week I had the privilege of speaking to the day and night Mom to Mom groups at the People's Church (a great sister church in our area). And I was reminded of a truth God revealed to me several years ago with Humpty Dumpty--you know, the egg that fell off the wall.

My sister and I were having one of those "sister chats" that only happen once in a blue moon (normally that moon shines during the holidays), and we happened upon Humpty Dumpty after his great fall. I told my sister that had I walked up to Humpty all splattered on the ground, and if I'd seen "all the king's horses and all the king's men" riding off in the distance, I would get down on my knees and start putting those pieces back together again. For even if no one else could do it--somehow I'd think that I could figure out a way--and I could fix Humpty good as new!

Last year Humpty fell off that wall. And ever since that day I've been up to my elbows in egg yolk and shell fragments. I've cried and prayed. I've maneuvered and schemed. I've shouted and even cursed. (Is that ok to admit on this blog--being a pastor's wife and all that?!)

And finally yesterday, through a text message I fell on my face in that rotten egg mess and realized, I couldn't put Humpty together again.

He fell. He shouldn't have been on that wall in the first place. I wasn't there to catch him! He hit the ground and he broke into a million pieces and I can't put him together again.

Not even when I pray.
Not when I fast.
Not when I read books about "getting over the fall," "forgiving him for cracking," or "putting the King's power into practice."
Not when I memorize Scripture.
Nor when I post it all over my walls.

Humpty is broken. And there is absolutely nothing I can do for him.

You'd think I would be devastated by this realization but just the opposite happened. On the same day that I realized this truth, the KING called to me from the distance. He reminded me (in a miraculous way that I will blog about in the future)of this, "I know what you are going through and I haven't forgotten you." Just a simple word to reassure me that He had His eye on Humpty all along. And even though His own men and horses--and I--can't put Humpty together again,

He can!

Monday, February 28, 2011

15 Things My Grandma Smith Taught Me...

As a tribute to my Grandma Smith (whom we buried yesterday beside my Papa at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church just a 1/4 mile from the house where they lived for most of their lives).

1. I'm never too old to hold my husband's hand.
2. You can turn an ordinary meal into an occasion by adding salad plates; each one filled with a leaf of lettuce, 1/2 a pear (home grown and canned), a dollop of mayonnaise and shredded cheese (but you have to shred the cheese yourself).
3. Even very young grandchildren can help fry chicken if you have a paper sack.
4. Girlfriends are important and the party line is way more fun than facebook.
5. Wear a floppy hat and your husband's old work shirt if you want to work in the garden. And do your garden work early before it gets too hot.
6. Tell funny stories. It helps to keep life in perspective.
7. Learn to laugh at yourself and you'll never be without amusement.
8. Listen respectfully to the daily Bible reading even if the eggs are getting cold and the chapters are long.
9. Write encouraging letters to your grandchildren when they go to college and sometimes send them with tea cakes or fried pies.
10. Always frost the tea cakes you make at Easter (and sprinkle colored sugar on the ones you make for Christmas).
11. Don't ever stop believing in Santa Claus!
12. If your grandchildren can't stop giggling when they go to bed at your house--just jump in bed with them!
13. When life begins to take you in a direction you'd rather not go--look for one thing you can appreciate; like a good road.
14. If you want to tell someone how very much you love them--feed them until they pop!
15. Take time to sit on the porch and watch the traffic go by.

Mikel couldn't be with us at the funeral, but she texted me and said this about Grandma, "She made me laugh." Four words that sum up her life perfectly!!

"She is clothed in strength and dignity and she can laugh..."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Picture God is Painting

I'm embarrassed that it's been over a month since I updated my blog. I promise to do better. :)

If you've been keeping up with me, you know that on February 9 I became a NANA when my 18 year old daughter gave birth to her 10lb 2 oz baby girl. If you know me at all--you also know that in the picture I was painting for my daughter's life--not in a million years would I have painted THIS!

In my last shout out; I told you that I was convicted that I needed to "step away from the canvas" and let God do the painting. My exact words were:

...In the conversation with one of those friends, I told her that God was showing me the difference between begging Him for the "picture" and instead trusting Him for the "promise."

You see, God is faithful to HIS PROMISES, not to our pictures. We have a tendency to paint pictures that interpret His promises--imaginations gone wild--daydreams---snapshots of what the fulfillment of God's promises look like.

As I described this thought to one friend I told her that God was challenging me to let Him be the one to paint the picture. She responded to me, "Leighann, step away from the canvas!"

So right now I'm washing my paint brushes and putting them away--for God has assured me that when He fulfills His promises the picture He paints will be a MASTERpiece.

Well, I just want you to know that He is far from finished; but you tell me--how's He doing so far?

Hope Deferred Makes the Heart Sick

I've been thinking a whole lot about the Proverb that says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." What does that mean?

I've come to the conclusion that it's talking about me this year--having my hope wrapped around whether or not circumstances will change (quickly) to bring peace to the storm and wholeness to what is broken. In essence, I want what God wants! Isn't He all about peace and wholeness? That's my "hope."

The "deferred" part is being disappointed at just about every turn. Because I'm so "hopeful" I watch every day for one tiny text message or phone call; or even a slight sigh that no one hears but me. And when I get that, I just KNOW my hope is about to be fulfilled--only to have that hope crushed as the next "big" thing moves me seemingly further away rather than closer to that which I'm hoping for.

I have a friend whose husband is determined to divorce her. She wants her marriage--he wants out. She is taking care of their 3 children (one who is autistic) and rallies prayer support. One day she's up because they plan to spend the weekend together; or they have a great phone conversation; or the family has some good family time. But the next day she's served papers; or receives notice of her 'day in court.'

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

There are two things that she and and I need to do now.

1. Stand on the promise God's given us for the one we love. Claim it; rejoice in it; thank God for it; and shout AMEN to it. Just this morning I read this in Lynn Cowman's devotional book Streams in the Desert, "Faith adds the "Amen" to God's "Yes" and then takes its hands off, leaving God to finish His work."

2. Release ourselves to pour GOOD STUFF into the family He's given us to love (our other 3) and ourselves! While God is meticulously and methodically working with what HE knows in the lives of those we thought we knew; we get to carry on. Carry on with living our lives to the glory of God--trusting Him to bind our gaping wounds and to provide us with strength, mercy, grace and everything else we need to deal with the "mean time."

The other day God asked me if I trusted Him. I said, "Yes, Lord. I do trust You." He then asked if I trusted Him no matter how long it might take to make good on His promise. I cried, and I sputtered and told Him how hard it is for me, and He reminded me of another old hymn,

"Have Thine Own Way, Lord, Have Thine Own Way...Hold O're my being absolute sway."

Absolute sway means whatever, wherever, however and whenever.

I told my friend that it stinks this "hope deferred" stuff. The wise person who first penned those words certainly knew what he was talking about: Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

Sick unto death--a daily death. Dying daily to my losses and my offenses.

But dying daily paves the way also for a daily resurrection--a resurrection in believing that God backs His promises with His very own name. He'll come through for us, my friend! He has to. :)